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Christian Purity

Polymer clay relief sculpture of a woman holding out her hand and light emanating from it.
Light Bearer, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

"With the pure You will show Yourself pure;

And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd."  2 Samuel 22:27

It is a fascinating thought that our personal purity before God will determine how He will show Himself to us.

Christian purity in personal ethics is challenged in every generation. Ours is no different.

We don't usually consider the possibility that our perception of God and our experiences with Him could be limited by the degree of personal purity we maintain before Him.

If you deny His existence or rage at Him, perhaps an honest look inward and corresponding actions of integrity can begin the process of understanding Him better. He promises to "show" Himself to those who pursue purity.

Seeking to maintain Christian purity as an artist is challenging in an age when there's a clash between transient, flashy glory, which is encouraged and applauded, and quiet labor with eternity in view. The latter may never be commended much in this lifetime.

It helps to know that our endeavors with Jesus were anticipated by Him before our newborn eyes first opened to a single day on earth. Although ordained, they must be sought out to be lived—and the choice is left to us. The precious gift of free will is granted to every baby entering this sin riddled world.

Hand bearing light
Light Bearer, Detail, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

Ephesians 2:10 is one of my favorite verses!

“For we are God’s workmanship, (poiema (Greek)— poem—a masterful, unique creation or transformation), created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, (ergon (Greek)—works of labor, including anything accomplished by hand, art, industry or mind.), which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Isn’t it exciting that we've been created in Christ Jesus, as a unique poem, for purposeful, pre-ordained labor? It thrills me that the Greek word used for "works" included the making of art, although it certainly is not limited to it.

The language expresses so well God's exquisite craftsmanship of our lives, melding His gifts for each of us with the unique purpose of bearing His light to the world. Calling the ordained works "good," hints at the blessing intended to accompany them.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

It is His grace gifted, and received by faith, that saved us, not our own works. Our works cannot save us, but they can manifest Him in our lives after we've been saved.

As a Christian visual artist, your unique life expressed through your artwork has the potential to point to His glory in simplicity and purity. However, it's with His active partnership. What a relief to know that He takes this amazing task seriously!

Both the job of making us fit, as well as helping us employ those abilities, are His responsibility, according to Ephesians 2:10. Of course, we must be willing participants with Him!

“We ARE God’s workmanship….” is in the present tense. However, ‘that we should walk in them’ implies a progression—it's as we make our way through life, staying alert to make use of every opportunity.

So how does the lack of purity upset this equation?

Christian purity is often discussed in the context of sexual immorality. God however, expects purity in ALL affairs of the heart. He frequently compares the sin of idolatry to adultery.

Cloaked under the voluminous folds of creativity is the dagger of ambition, self-will and pride. In our impatience for success, it's easy to compromise our Christian purity and so strike the death blow to our chances of closeness with God.

If we seek anything other than God-initiated opportunities and respond with anything other than God-prepared abilities, we risk compromise.

  • Do we trust God to direct our learning?

  • Do we rest in the truth that He will guide us to the best resources, and grow our ability?

  • Do we trust in His provision of timely opportunities for the creation and exhibition of our art? Or do we create our own opportunities and scramble to provide for our needs?

  • Is our only allegiance to Him and His directives?

  • Do we spend enough time seeking Him, in His Word, to learn these directives? Or do we spend more time educating ourselves on the mechanics of art?

  • Why are we so slow to trust God to be our teacher and our guide?

May we frequently examine our motives to keep them from compromising our essential Christian purity. By doing so we'll please Him and far more effective as artists in His service.

The reward for maintaining purity of thoughts, motives and actions, is gaining deeper, richer experiences with Him, since He has promised to "show" Himself to us. Precisely how that will manifest is difficult to articulate, since the unveiling of His nature will be unique to each Christian.

Whenever I sense that I'm I veering off course because of muddied ambition or self will, I'm grateful for His faithfulness. Quick repentance and return to Him is all it takes to get back on track. He never stops working with, for, in, and through, us!

We are all 'works in progress'!

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